The Neiman Watchdog Journalism Project recently posted a story showing that Senators Clinton and McCain have fundraisers who lobby for foreign governments. The posting is an interview with a Neiman Watchdog researcher and reporter Will Evans with the Center for Investigative Journalism. Here is part of that interview:
What made you look into this story?
I am assigned to cover campaign finance. How the system works now is that any one person can only give a couple of thousand dollars to any one candidate. The idea there is that it will limit the amount of influence that you can have on a candidate. But the result of that is that big fundraisers become ever more important. They end up representing $100,000 or $200,000 to that candidate because they can raise that money from their friends and colleagues. So the question is: What interests do they represent? I took a list of top fundraisers compiled by [the nonprofit advocacy group] Public Citizen. I have been looking at those bundlers in a number of different ways, but I thought to run their names through the Justice Department database of lobbyists who work for foreign governments.
What did you find out?
We found that both Senator Clinton and Senator McCain have top fundraisers who are also lobbyists for foreign countries, and that those lobbyists help their clients gain access to those senators.
Can you give some examples for Clinton and McCain?
Clinton has two top fundraisers [John Merrigan and Matthew "Mac" Bernstein] who have raised at least $100,000 each, and they both work for clients such as the government of Turkey, which is trying to kill the Armenian Genocide resolution and also the government of Dubai, which is trying to defend against accusations of child slavery. Their firm [DLA Piper] arranged meetings with Clinton and her staff on both of those issues.
On the McCain side, you have his national finance chair Thomas Loeffler. He is a long-time lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, and his firm has collected millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia. Loeffler personally set up a meeting between McCain and then Saudi ambassador to the United States [Prince Turki al-Faisal] in 2006.
The investigation also includes an excellent chart that shows which candidates are using lobbyists for foreign governments.